"(Wendy) Davis is running (for governor) against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is heavily favored to win in a state that remains strongly Republican."
Katie Glueck, in "Wendy Davis and the ever-longer odds," Politico, Oct. 19.
Yes, yes, lady, fine; you got it. But this is barely to scratch the surface of the thing.
Why does Texas, a pulsating, change-oriented state, full of young people, full of minorities, full of those women the Republicans are alleged (by Democrats) to be running a "war" against—how come Texas "remains strongly Republican"? Which it does and probably will for a while longer, barring divine intervention.
I would love to ascribe the reason to good ol' frontier values as buckskinned and lively now as in the days when John Wayne and such like went around saving us from enemies foreign and domestic. In fact, the frontier disappeared decades ago, along with appurtenances such as carbines and 10-gallon hats. An exceedingly large proportions of today's Texans lived Up North prior to the 1940s; check the newspaper obits to get the feel for how many people, in post-World War II America, saw Texas as the land of opportunity.
The Indians in Texas these days are the kind Columbus wrongly believed himself to have found in the West Indies; the Vietnamese and Chinese are here as well. Then there are the Mexicans, Texas' perpetual next-door neighbors, drawing equal in number with the so-called Anglos.
If the Yankee media or the foreign press, or both, believe drawling yokels and Baptist preachers keep the state hitched to the Republican chariot, that is, um, a fallacious assumption.
What, then? How come the Abbott-Davis Race never got anything like close?
There are of course the usual political reasons—Abbott's long tenure in politics, framed against Davis' relative inexperience. More to the point is Texas' undoubted "conservative" streak. It is not the streak the media take vast joy in promoting: backwards, narrow, resentful. It is of another order entirely—frank, breezy, independent; the feeling is of open-shirted, muscle-flexing latitude to do and to be, and to will and to want. The feeling is a good thing. Conservatives know better than to go messing around with a good thing. Their calling in life is to keep and improve it.
The party of Wendy Davis—not necessarily Wendy herself, but the bunch she hangs out with—is the party of interference unlimited. Her Democrats want to tell everybody else what to do and how to do it. Phooey on fossil fuels! No school choice or charter schools! Raise the minimum wage! Stub out that cigarette; drop that Coke can!
Bossy, fussy, imperious, unwilling ever to leave well enough alone, the party of Wendy Davis, and of course Barack Obama, bestrides the nation. Or would if it weren't for a few stubborn patches of ground like Texas, where independence of action and absence of thought control are prized attributes—to new and old Texans alike.
I would not overstate. Texans there are who think the federal government has their best interests at heart and accordingly should be encouraged and strengthened by the election of people such as, well, Wendy Davis. At the moment these Texans' numbers are smaller than the number of those who tend to equate the way things get done in Texas with the way things got done in a more fruitful, more serious America, when it was more than OK to set your own compass, take pride in your own efforts and dreams and works.
That sense of possibilities, of freedoms worth having and handling, is what I see the majority of Texans as continuing, for now, to favor amid liberal shot and shell. We shall see how well Gov.-to-be Greg Abbott feeds this spirit with words, counsel and as few government actions as seem consistent with the duty to conserve that which works.
You sort of feel sorry, meanwhile, for Wendy Davis, smiling exuberant agent of the government-dependence movement in Texas. She might have ended up Queen of California.
William Murchison's latest book is The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson. To find out more about William Murchison, and to see features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists,visit the Creators Syndicate website a www.Creators.com.
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William Murchison is a corresponding editor of Chronicles and the author of The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson (ISI) and Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity. William Murchison, syndicated columnist and longtime commentator on religious, cultural, and political affairs, has contributed to many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, National Review, The Weekly Standard, and First Things.